Having played together off and on for over 40 years, Steve Lacy and Roswell Rudd are hardly strangers to each other. In the early 1960s, when they led a quartet devoted to Thelonious Monk's music, they could barely find anyone to record them (the exception being the Emanem LP School Days, reissued on CD as Hat Art 6140); today a Monk tribute album is a much more salable item. But despite its title and the presence of two Monk compositions, the title work and "Pannonica," that's not what this is. Rather, it is a kind of newly recorded Lacy sampler, adding to the Monk tunes: one by Duke Ellington ("Koko"), three Lacy works that have been recorded previously ("The Door," "The Bath," "The Rent"), and three new Lacy numbers ("A Bright Pearl," "Traces," "Grey Blue"). The familiarity of the players -- who, in addition to Lacy and Rudd, include Lacy's regular rhythm section of Jean-Jacques Avenel and John Bestsch -- is both good news and bad news. Certainly, they sound comfortable with each other, but also, given their long association and the mostly familiar material, they don't seem to have been greatly challenged. They sound most comfortable with the Monk tunes and take some chances with the Ellington, but on Lacy's tunes they sometimes stretch out pointlessly. This is particularly the case on the nearly 12-minute "The Bath," which Lacy wrote for a film about a bum who gets to take a bath for the first time in years. The song begins playfully, but it runs on and on until you'd think Rudd was trying to play every possible note on the trombone. Monk's Dream is a warm reunion of old friends, but those friends could have tried a little harder to come up with something fresh.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann